BFF faces funding threat

LACK OF funding threatens the future of the promotional campaign British Food Fortnight despite its £10m contribution to regional food sales.

“Unless adequate funding can be secured by Christmas, we will cancel the event next year,” organiser Alexia Robinson told FARMERS WEEKLY.

Before the event, Miss Robinson warned: “British Food Fortnight is so under-funded, it‘s a joke.

“We are running a nationwide enterprise as a cottage industry.”

Assurances of about £200,000 will be needed before Christmas to safeguard its future.

The organisers received government funding of £46,870 this year from DEFRA through Food from Britain, the Department for Education and Skills and the Department for Health.

Food From Britain director Charlotte Lawson said it was too early to say what money would be available next year.

“Until we evaluate this year, we can‘t look at support for next year.”

But “anecdotal evidence” suggested the event was successful and hopefully it would continue, she added.

No one was available for comment from the Departments for Education and Skills or Health.

Meanwhile, support for BFF came from the Prince of Wales and groups that have worked with the event organisers.

A spokeswoman for the Prince said: “The Prince was delighted that British Food Fortnight went so well and was particularly encouraged by the response from schools. He very much hopes the event will take place next year.”

Chris Larson, rural development director of the charity Business in the Community, which advised the organisers, said it would be a “tragedy” if BFF was cancelled.

“It‘s become tremendously successful in only three years. Children would be disappointed if it did not take place.”

A spokesman for the National Trust, which backed the campaign through its catering and retail outlets, said: “The event has successfully raised the profile of local, seasonal British food.

“It would be a lost opportunity to market British produce to a wider audience if the event did not take place.”

Greater investment was needed if the event was to build on what had been achieved, said Miss Robinson.

“We need more and better point-of-sale material, particularly for the independent retail sector.”

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